C2 Technology is in the business of providing technology support and consulting to other organizations, and Google’s many tools are indispensable to me and my team. Our email is hosted by Google, our searches are powered by Google, and it even helps me keep track of where I’ve been in the past week, and as many of you know, I am all over the map, seven days a week. I do this using the very handy “Timeline” feature provided by Google and my Android phone’s GPS. But I do all of this knowing full well that Google is literally tracking everything I do, and even being as familiar as I am with the industry and how data collection works, I can still say with complete confidence that I don’t know half of what Google is actually tracking about me, and probably even less about the several dozen other technology platforms I interact with on a daily, even hourly basis. And if I, a technology consultant who lives and breathes technology, can’t keep track of the data that other companies are collecting about me, what hope does that leave for the average person?
“Be better” Google?
An Associated Press investigation caught Google red-handed tracking users’ locations even when users disabled “Location History” in their device’s settings. They didn’t even try to apologize, instead insisting that turning off Location History does in fact disable that particular function (which tracks your movements for apps like the above-mentioned Timeline function), but that other Google apps may have location-aware services that will gather data in order to “improve people’s experience…” and, guess what, those apps have controls that will allow you to disable location tracking for that particular app. How many of the apps and websites that you use on your mobile device are tracking your location? Definitely more than just the Maps app, and the only way to turn off Google’s tracking as a whole is to “pause” a setting in your Google account called “Web & App Activity”. As many of Google’s critics rightly point out, the obvious assumption people will make when disabling Location Tracking is that location tracking is turned off everywhere, so using vague words and splitting semantic hairs is disingenuous at best, and in the EU where GDPR was implemented to curb this type of double-speak (among many other things), it might actually be a violation. Maybe Google needs to embellish its (seemingly long forsaken) motto, “Don’t be evil” to include some specifics. The above practice, while maybe not “Evil” in the traditional sense is still pretty slimy and clearly designed to benefit the company and not its customers.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net